By Norma Tsopo
Mozambican chiefs have buried at least 82 corpses that they pulled out of Rusitu River during Cyclone Idai induced floods, a senior government official has revealed.
Local Government Minister July Moyo told Permanent Secretaries who are touring Manicaland in the wake of Idai that one of the chiefs – Mutsongi, photographed some of them before burial to assist with their future identification.
Moyo who made a helicopter tour of Vhimba where he picked up the information said government would soon make formal contacts with the Mozambican government over the issue.
He said they had been informed of how seven bodies were pulled out of Rusitu River, which drains Rusitu valley just as it exited the country into Mozambique, where seven were buried by Chief Mutsongi as 15 more were buried at its confluence with Haroni, which drains Chimanimani Mountains, all in single burial graves with at least another 60 buried further down south having either been pulled out or washed onto the banks of the same river.
“(We were told) of the deaths and burials that have taken place in Mozambique the first who were buried (along Rusitu River), those who were taken pictures, there is a Chief Mutsongi who buried seven people then on the confluence of Rusitu and Haroni rivers another 15 were buried by Mozambicans in single burial graves.
“Further south along Rusitu River there is a burial of another 60 people,” Moyo said.
Those being buried in neighbouring Mozambique are among those being reported as missing.
Only 179 have now been physically buried locally with over 200 still missing – either having been buried in landslides or having washed away by flooded rivers which took out entire settlements including Peacock business centre and Dzingire growth point which had over 200 inhabitants.
Moyo said government should open communication channels through Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Manicaland Ellen Gwaradzimba to begin formal contacts with Mozambique’s Governor for Manica Province over the burials.
“Minister we were just saying to ourselves there has been channels of communication between you and the Governor of that province (Manica) and we now need to open those channels so that joint operational command can go and found out what really happened,” Moyo said.